Safe Winter Driving on The Mountain
By Amber Ford
As Mt. Hood continues to grow its snow base and winter sports resorts such as Timberline Lodge and Mt. Hood Meadows prepare to kick off their season, motorists are urged to use more caution this year than in previous years.
In just the last month, several serious accidents have occurred on the Mt. Hood Corridor, resulting in at least two fatalities. According to Oregon Department of Transportation Public Information Officer, Don Hamilton, sensible winter weather driving is of the utmost importance with regard to safety concerns, especially at the higher elevations. “During ski season with the potential for bad winter weather conditions, road safety is the most significant reason for concern,” Hamilton said. “Highway 26 is a very busy route because it gives access to the many ski resorts, but also because it’s the gateway from the Willamette Valley to Central Oregon,” Hamilton added.
While ODOT continues to do work year round to improve highway conditions and prepare for winter weather, budget issues could pose serious impacts to motorists in winter seasons to come. According to Hamilton, as costs continue to rise with regard to the equipment needed to keep major roads clean, the gas tax (which is the main source from which ODOT pulls their funds) is expected to decrease. “We [ODOT] do not receive funds from the Oregon income tax,” Hamilton said. “Our funding has come from the gas tax for the last century and while it’s pretty level at the moment we are expecting a shift in that as our costs continue to increase,” Hamilton added.
Winter weather driving through the Mt. Hood Corridor has become such a hot topic for both locals and those traveling to the resorts that longtime Mt. Hood Villages resident, Conlan Joy, has created the ever-so popular Instagram account, “The Govy 500,” to showcase not only shared images of motorists in strange and comical situations, but to provide followers with ODOT updates and travel conditions. The Govy 500 was founded in 2020 and has spread throughout many other social media platforms with its humor and driving advisories. Referring to their viewers and motorists as “racers,” The Govy 500 is also now advertised by Migration Brewing in the form of an IPA. “Content for the page is mainly focused on traffic updates with a sense of humor, road delays, live action from the raceway including accidents, stalled cars/semis, and road closures to keep racers informed about any delays on the course,” Joy said.
With winter break just around the corner, both Hamilton and Joy advise all motorists visiting Mt. Hood to remain vigilant in preparation for winter weather driving. Both suggest purchasing winter tires, keeping an emergency kit in your car and constantly checking road and weather conditions on your route.
For more information on the Govy 500, visit their Instagram page (@the_govy500) or their website www.govy500.com and for road conditions visit tripcheck.com